Today’s guest post is from Payman Taei, the Founder of Visme. I’ve actually written about Visme before when I gave a nod to his Make Information Beautiful series, but today Payman is discussing discipline, not design.
While it’s true that no two entrepreneurs are really created equally, there are a number of core qualities that a lot of them seem to share (the successful ones, at least). They need to be forward-thinkers. They not only be able to see how they’re going to tackle themselves today, but they need to always be thinking about the position their company needs to be in to address the demands of tomorrow, too.
They’re visionaries. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, they always have a strategy in mind for how their company is going to grow and evolve over time.
They’re passionate. Once that idea has taken hold inside their head, there is really no talking them out of it. For better or worse, this is what they’re going to do and sink or swim, it’s going to get done.
But perhaps the most important quality of all is the one that all of the above feed directly into: discipline, and a lot of it.
Discipline is defined as “the training of people to obey a set of rules or a particular code of behavior, using punishment as a way to correct disobedience along the way.” When you’re talking about your employees, that’s one thing. When you’re talking about yourself, that’s another matter altogether.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re essentially the judge, the jury and the executioner in terms of your own destiny. If you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to do it – even if whatever it is couldn’t be more important.
This is why discipline is massively crucial to a successful entrepreneur. You are your own most valuable employee. But without discipline, you’re also your worst employee, too.
That’s just not something you can afford right now.
The Discipline Effect
One of the major reasons why discipline is so essential to the life of an entrepreneur actually has to do with your number one enemy: procrastination.
Being an entrepreneur is hard – there’s really nobody on the other side of this issue. But from a certain perspective, it’s also one of the most mundane and repetitive jobs you can think of.
You wake up in the morning with an idea. You come at that idea from a variety of angles, poking any hole in it you can to try to tear it down, build it back up and make it stronger. You have to work to get your team on board so that they can in turn work to get your audience on board.
You implement that idea, making about every mistake in the book along the way. Progress is slow, but that’s okay. Because every mistake makes you stronger. It takes a long time. It’s not fun. It’s incredibly challenging. But finally, you implement that idea.
Now, you need to get up tomorrow and do it again. And the next day. And the day after that.
After awhile, it’s easy to forget why you ever wanted to do this in the first place. You wake up in the morning and find yourself thinking “Eh, it’s cold out. I really don’t feel like going in.” Or “II don’t feel like doing that work for that client I’ve been putting off for a couple of weeks.” Or “I’m not exactly thrilled about sinking so much time in my day to the same design issue I’ve been battling for ages.”
But you do it anyway. You get up, you go in, you get the work done. Even when you don’t want to and especially when you think you won’t be able to. But without discipline and most importantly self-discipline, you’re never going to be able to get to this point.
This even plays out in the way you handle the administrative part of your business, too. As the leader of any organization, marketing is also critical. It is also time consuming and hardly falls into the category of the “fun” part of being an entrepreneur.
But you still sit down with a tool like Visme (which I founded to help people communicate more effectively) and work hard on those Infographics. You still devote countless hours to getting all those social media graphics just right. Not necessarily because you want to, but because they’re a cornerstone of your direct line of communication with your audience.
You don’t necessarily wake up in the morning and think to yourself “man, I can’t wait to sit in front of the computer for hours and design that new piece of collateral.” But you do it anyway because you know you have to. Then, you do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day.
That’s what discipline is all about.
It All Begins and Ends With You
Being an entrepreneur is a lot more like being the captain of a ship than even people realize. You’re responsible for more than just the destination of a business. You’re responsible for how you arrive at that destination, too.
Everything – from the direction you’re headed in to the stops you take to the opportunities that you take advantage of to how you respond to sudden problems or risk – all falls under your responsibility.
Because of this, you also set the tone. You lead by example. People aren’t going to follow you into uncharted waters just because their paychecks depend on it. This is especially true in the modern age, where people don’t really expect to work for the same company for decades in the first place.
They follow you because you’re worth following. They follow you because they need to. Because they just can’t help themselves. The only way you’re going to get to that point is if you become the leader they need you to be and the only way to accomplish that is by doubling down on every ounce of discipline in your body.
If you are just starting out on your journey as an entrepreneur, you can tap into this free resource containing a list of tools and apps every founder needs to jumpstart their business, plus four free audio summaries of must-read books for entrepreneurs on the go.
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.